December 2, 2009
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."
Romans 12:10 (NIV)
Margaret was new to the area and decided to visit a few local churches and Bible studies before she chose where to attend regularly. Unfortunately, it turned out the same everywhere she went: no one acknowledged her.
They didn't even seem to see her. She was left feeling like a small fish in a big sea. "How am I ever going to meet anyone, let alone make a friend?" she thought to herself, as she uncomfortably poured herself a cup of coffee in the foyer of a church.
Recently, I had a conversation with Margaret and she reminisced with me about the time she felt so alone in that foyer full of women. She made me giggle when she revealed how she entertained herself during those lonely times by wearing the same outfit on purpose for weeks in a row. She was convinced that it just didn't matter because no one would remember her anyway.
Although Margaret felt alone and invisible, she was not. Jesus said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7, NIV). Not only did God see her that day, but He knew what kind of hair day she was having!
I know how Margaret felt. My son started a new school this year and I found myself in a similar situation. As I attended my first PTA meeting, I looked around the room and didn't know a soul. I noticed I wasn't the only one by myself. There were other women who appeared not to know anyone either. Many were sitting alone, pretending to be at ease, yet not looking upward or outward; just awkwardly tending to their refreshments. Everyone else was talking and laughing in groups of two's and three's, unaware that there were isolated women in the room.
How do we become so involved with ourselves that we forget about others who might be new or lonely? I think about Margaret's story and I wonder, "Am I so caught up with what's going on with me that I forget it's not all about me?" Perhaps meetings, Bible studies or holiday parties aren't all about the girlfriends I already know, but about reaching out to someone who is searching for a welcoming friend.
I've been challenging myself to look beyond my familiar circle, and I want to invite you to do the same. Wherever you go, look around the room and find someone who is by herself. Walk up to her and say hello. Ask some questions about how long she's been coming and how you might help her feel connected and welcomed in that particular situation. You may just be the one that helps her realize she's not invisible - she's noticed - by God and by you.
Dear Lord, I pray as I go about my business that you will help me to become more aware of others. I pray that I seek out those who feel uncomfortable or who might be new. Help me step outside myself and approach someone who needs to be noticed. I pray I realize it's not all about me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Shari's blog - A Beautiful Place
Connecting Women: A Relationship Guide for Leaders in Women's Ministry by Linda Lesniewski
As you prepare to leave your home today, tell God you are willing to be used for His purposes. Tell Him you are ready for an assignment to welcome someone.
Ask your women's ministry leader or PTA advisor (or whatever group you're involved in) if there is a welcoming committee. Offer to help or head this up so no one has to feel like Margaret did. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what my friend Margaret did!
Do I feel like Margaret sometimes? Remember whose you are. The Lord says in Isaiah 49:16, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" (NIV).
Is there a holiday party coming up that you would rather avoid? Go to it looking for the plans and the new friend God has for you there.
Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (NIV)
Acts 17:28, "In Him we live and move and have our being." (NIV)
© 2009 by Shari Braendel. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Wednesday, 02 December 2009.